South Carolina 2008 Weather in Review
South Carolina State Climatology Office
South Carolina Department Natural Resources
P.O. Box 167
Columbia, SC 29202
Arctic-sourced air charged southward to start the new year. On January 3, Caesars Head recorded a 6 degree minimum temperature and snow flurries were observed from Oconee County to Berkeley County. At Pineville winds gusted to 46 mph. Extremely high barometric pressure (30.80") was recorded at the Florence, Darlington and Columbia airports. As quickly as the freezing air came, it was replaced with record warmth during the second week. Jamestown, in Berkeley County, reported 80 degrees on January 10. Thunderstorms on January 11 produced 3.05 inches of rain at Edisto Beach. Winter returned on January 17 with a 4-inch snowfall at Tigerville while locations well east of the Piedmont received a cold rain. More sub-freezing cold arrived with near record barometric pressure values (30.83" at Florence and Columbia Owens airports) on January 21. Caesars Head and Lake Bowen observed minimum temperatures of 10 degrees on the morning of January 25. The month ended with Jocassee Dam receiving 1.85 inches of rain on January 31.
Spring-like conditions jumped ahead of the calendar during the first week of February. The warming caused dense fog with "zero" visibility that closed the Charleston Harbor to traffic on the morning of February 5. That same afternoon, Jamestown, Pritchardville, Cades and the Columbia Airport all recorded 82 degrees. Rains ahead of a cold front produced 1.55 inches at Georgetown airport on February 12. The unstable conditions persisted into the third week with thunderstorm winds gusting to 43 mph at Myrtle Beach on February 18. A strong cold front swept through the state on February 26. The Florence airport measured winds gusting at 46 mph and Liberty received 1.36 inches of rain. On February 28, Johnston reported a morning low temperature of 14 degrees.
Violent weather affected the state on March 4 as a cold front collided with the warm moist air. There were short-path tornadoes in Lancaster and Newberry counties. National Weather Service equipment at Lake Murray measured winds gusting at 62 mph and Edgefield received 2.42 inches of rain. A second round of high winds was observed on March 8. The Pineville sensor near the Santee Dam recorded a gust to 52 mph. Snow flurries were reported at Table Rock. 80-degree warmth returned on March 13 helping to accelerate early flowering. Damaging thunderstorms with large hail and tornadoes roared across the state on March 15. Property damage was extensive in both Newberry and Orangeburg counties from the EF-3 rated twisters. Iva, in Anderson County, observed hail the size of softballs. Springfield measured 2.06 inches of rain during the event. Spring arrived on March 20 under a cold and dry body of air. The Columbia Airport reported a relative humidity value of just 12 percent. On March 24, snowflurries were observed at Table Rock and Sandy Springs. Lake Bowen, in Spartanburg County, recorded 20 degrees on the morning of March 25.
The season's warmest weather began on April 2. Pritchardville's thermometer peaked at 87 degrees. A nearly stationary boundary became the focus of steady rains on April 3. Dillon received 3.40 inches of rain during the event. Dense fog and "zero" visibilities were observed on April 10 at the airports of Hilton Head, Shaw AFB, and McEntire ANG. The new year's first 90-degree reading occurred on April 12 at Jamestown (91 degrees). A late spring freeze was reported on April 16 with Pelion registering 27 degrees. The state's last frost was seen on April 30 at Hunts Bridge.
Strong storms, fueled by 90-degree heat, developed over eastern South Carolina on May 5. Golf ball-sized hail fell on Sumter County. Thunderstorms on Saturday, May 10, pelted parts of Berkeley and Edgefield counties with 1.75-inch diameter hail. Brief tornadoes caused property damage on Johns Island and James Island in Charleston County. Large swings in temperature were reported between May 13-16. Lake Bowen and Cedar Creek cooled to 40 degrees on May 13 while Jamestown bordered on hot with 90 degrees on May 16. A cold front produced stormy weather on May 20. Smoaks, in Walterboro County, was hard hit with 3-inch diameter hail. On the same day, Jamestown's high temperature climbed to 95 degrees. Thunderstorms on May 28 dropped 2.49 inches of rain on Givhans. Summer-like, mid 90-degree heat covered the state on May 31.
Hot, dry weather started the unofficial summer season. Shade temperatures began peaking over 100 degrees on June 6. The Sandhill Experiment Station measured a 24-hour open pan evaporation water loss of 0.47 inches. Johnston baked at 105 degrees on June 8. A few seabreeze supported afternoon thunderstorms fell near the coast and over the central midlands during the second week of June. A break in the heat occurred on June 17 with the passage of a cold front. Pritchardville, in Beaufort County, was drenched with 4.04 inches of rain during a thunderstorm. Hail episodes seemed to accompany many afternoon and evening storms as the cold air aloft added to the unstable atmosphere. Storms on Saturday, June 21, sent baseball-sized hail near the town of Cross. Another cold front on June 24 replaced the surface heat. Greer measured a relative humidity value of just 15 percent on June 24. Table Rock cooled to 56 degrees on the morning of June 25. An intense and localized storm over the Jacksonborough Community dropped 0.98 inches of rain in 20 minutes on June 25. Coastal storms on June 29 spun the anemometer at Hilton Head airport to 64 mph. The Greenville-Spartanburg Airport rainfall total of 0.13 inches was a site record least amount ever measured for June.
An unseasonable, cool air mass overspread the state on July 2 with Lake Bowen chilling to 51 degrees. More summer-like weather quickly returned on July 3 and 4 with Saluda, Clinton and Darlington reaching 97 degrees. Tropical downpours affected central South Carolina on July 9 with McEntire ANG Airport receiving 2.71 inches of rain in 46 minutes. Between July 5 and July 11 Effingham measured 9.19 inches of rain. On July 20, both Clinton and Saluda recorded 101 degrees. Strong, afternoon thunderstorms on July 21 produced 61 mph winds on Lake Murray. The Darlington Airport measured 62 mph winds on July 27. At month's end, Edisto Island had been soaked by 12.64 inches of rain while Clemson had received only 1.48 inches.
On August 2, the Greer National Weather Service measured a wind gust of 64 mph and large hail fell over parts of Greenville County. The year's highest temperatures were recorded on August 6. Hunts Bridge, located near Travelers Rest, baked at 104 degrees. On August 7, thunderstorm cloud tops topped 65,000 feet over the Lowcountry and produced a wind gust of 69 mph at the Beaufort Marine Corps Air Station. An area of low pressure entered the state from the Gulf of Mexico on August 12 with heavy rains concentrated along the coast. Ft. Moultrie reported 4.96 inches of rain in 24 hours. On August 20, clouds signaled the approach of Tropical Storm Fay. Onshore winds at Charleston and Folly Beach gusted to 39 mph and Hunting Island State Park reported excessive tidal overwash. The slow exiting remnants of Fay dropped heavy rains from the mountains to the southern coast. Chester measured an event total of 9.38 inches of rain. Light property damage was the result of several weak tornadoes.
Hardly a week had passed before Tropical Storm Hanna began approaching the South Carolina coast on September 5. The storm's center landfalled near Little River, SC, on September 6. The N Myrtle Beach Airport measured winds gusting to 53 mph and a minimum barometric pressure value of 29.04 inches of mercury. Marion was drenched with 8.73 inches of rain in 24 hours. Despite the calendar, the heat continued as if it were mid-summer. Both Ft. Moultrie and Givhans recorded 96 degrees on September 15. Thunderstorms on the same day unloaded 1.74 inches of rain in one hour at the Columbia Airport. A long awaited fall-like airmass arrived on September 17. The high temperature in Johnston was a cool 69 degrees. On the morning of September 23 Lake Bowen's thermometers indicated 51 degrees. Just before midnight on September 25, a coastal low feature drifted into Myrtle Beach from the Atlantic Ocean with east winds gusting to 46 mph at the N Myrtle Beach Airport. The blowing rain filled the gage at Myrtle Beach with 2.40 inches. Marion was the wettest location in South Carolina in September with 14.17 inches of rain.
A sharp change in temperature came on October 2. On the following morning, Cheraw reported 38 degrees. Steady rains fell over the coastal counties beginning October 10-13. Georgetown Airport received a three-day total of 3.84 inches. As with most October's sunshine and bright blue skies were observed during the middle of the month. A late push of summer-like air was felt on October 16 with Cades warming to 89 degrees. The season's first freeze and frost was observed on October 20. Cheraw was the state's coldest at 29 degrees. A large area of low pressure, approaching from Florida, impacted the state on Friday, October 24. Winds at Lake Murray gusted to 56 mph. Trees were downed in Lexington and Newberry counties. The Charleston Airport established a record 24-hour October rainfall record of 6.57 inches while McClellanville was flooded by a 24-hour total of 9.50 inches. A strong cold front entered the state on October 27. Caesars Head State Park reported a dusting of snow on the visitor's center rooftop on October 28. On the last day of the month, Cheraw observed a hard freeze at 23 degrees.
November began mild and dry. Both Beaufort and Pritchardville warmed to 81 degrees on November 13. A southeastward moving cold front collided with the moist, warm air and produced tornadoes in Calhoun and Dillon counties on November 14. Dillon also received 3.54 inches of rain in the event. The Florence Airport measured winds gusting to 40 mph that contributed to accelerated seasonal leaf drop. A large body of cold air overspread the state on November 18. During its arrival snowflurries were observed by the public within Marion and Horry counties. The first statewide freeze occurred on the morning of November 22. Cheraw recorded a deep winter-like 11 degrees while Edisto Island sat at 32 degrees. A nearly stationary boundary on November 28 became the avenue for steady rains. Barnwell received 3.32 inches between November 28-30. The westernmost counties were left out of the much- needed wet weather. Columbia's November average temperature of 49.4 degrees was their fourth coldest of record.
On December 1, snowflurries were observed from Table Rock to Greer. On the morning of December 3, Hunts Bridge noted a low temperature of 18 degrees. The very next day, another round of snowflurries was reported overnight at Table Rock. A shift to southerly winds on December 9 helped push the mercury to 79 degrees at Johnston. The warm, unstable airmass supported repeating thunderstorms and heavy rains December 10-12. The 2.77 inches of rain at Keowee Dam was the area's heaviest rain event since the remnants of Tropical Storm Fay way back during the last week of August. The greatest rainfall total for the event was measured at Lake Greenwood with 4.98 inches. More warm weather and rains for the drought stricken Upstate occurred between December 17-21. Orangeburg recorded 83 degrees on December 18 and Jocassee Dam measured 2.75 inches of rain during the period. Winter officially began on December 21 with winds gusting to 41 mph at the Greer Airport and accompanied by steadily falling temperatures from late morning through midnight. Longcreek reported the state's lowest temperature on December 22 at 14 degrees. As quickly as it came, the cold air departed and allowed both Charleston and Summerville to warm to 80 degrees on Christmas Day. The year ended on a mild note with partly sunny skies and middle 70-degree high temperatures.